Two of the titans of the rally circuit have gotten major model upgrades for the 2008 model year. Both the 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STI and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X are on show at this week's LA Auto Show, and we thought we'd take the opportunity to put them head-to-head.
Mitsu equips the Evo with its six-speed SST transmission. Although it is a manual transmission, its two clutches are worked by servos and a computer, making shift times faster than a standard manual.
The Evo gets a brand new engine for its 10th edition in the form of a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder plant with Mitusbishi's MIVEC valve timing. While the Evo's 295 horsepower is 10 horses shy of the Subaru, its 300 foot-pounds of torque gives it the edge on its rival. There are no official figures on the Evo's zero-to-60 credentials, but unofficial tests clock it at about 5 seconds flat.
Subaru opts for a more traditional six-speed manual tranny with some advanced components including triple-cone synchronizers on first and second, double-cone on third gear, and carbon synchronizers on fourth, fifth, and sixth gears.
The STI comes with Subie's optional next-generation GPS-navigation system, which combines high-resolution maps with useful 3D route-guidance graphics. The Navigation Package also include Subaru's Audyssy audio-enhancement system, an auxiliary video input, and Bluetooth hands-free calling.
The five-door Impreza WRX STI retains the chopped rear end of the standard Impreza, but forgoes the huge whale-tail spoiler of the old Impreza STI sedan. All four standard cast-alloy 18-inch wheels get Brembo performance brakes. Optional wheels include forged alloy BBS wheels.
In profile, the Evo features more fluent lines than the STI, as well as a signature oversize rear spoiler. The underside of the car's rear bumper is designed to exhaust the underbody airflow more effectively. Like the STI, the Evo sits on 18-inch cast alloy wheels, while the top-of-the-range GSR gets BBS alloys as standard.
The new Evo sports a distinctive trapezoidal front grille, featuring larger air intake openings and new ducting for improved engine cooling. In contrast to the STI's hood scoop, which is designed to admit outside air to the engine's intercooler, the Evo features a hood air outlet, which adds to the cooling effect. Two sleek, aggressive headlight assemblies and a squat body enhance the Evo's aerodynamics.
The STI version of the WRX makes use of a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder boxer engine assisted by an intercooled turbocharger, which makes 305 horsepower and 290 foot-pounds of torque. All those figures add up to a zero-to-60 mph time of 4.9 seconds.
The STI gets a serious makeover for 2008 with a bunch of performance-inspired design cues, including wide-body front fenders, front-fascia brake-cooling scoops, and aerodynamic ground-effects moldings. It also gets a longer wheel base and a stiffer platform than its predecessor.
The Evo comes with the option of the Mitsubishi Multi Communication System, which includes navigation and a 30GB hard drive. The maps are loaded onto the hard drive, making response time faster than with a DVD-based system. The hard drive can also be used to store music files, which can be played via the Evo's optional Rockford Fosgate audio system.